Oregon Poison Center Helps Grandparents Keep Kids Safe

03/20/00    Portland, Ore.

Poison Prevention Week - March 19-25, 2000

Grandma's house is a special place to visit so be sure it's a safe place, too. The Oregon Poison Center at Oregon Health Sciences University gets several calls a week from grandparents. "Just last week we had some grandparents call, who did all the right things. The child was chewing on something. They were concerned she may have eaten some of their medications, so they checked for open bottles and called the Oregon Poison Center right away," says Tonya Drayden, R.N., M.S.N., C.S.P.I., education director for the center.

Medicine is the number one cause of poisonings, followed by cleaning products, toiletries and plants. A study, conducted by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, states that 36 percent of childhood ingestion accidents related to prescriptions involve a grandparent's medication. Only 44 percent of grandparents have safety latches in their homes; three-fourths post emergency numbers, and only 10 percent recently have taken CPR.

In a survey released last year, former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, M.D., said, "Even the most loving grandparents can put their grandchildren in danger when they unknowingly overlook simple precautions. The survey shows that grandparents are doing a good job, but they need more information to make child safety practices a regular part of their lives."

National surveys show a growing number of grandparents are adopting and raising their grandchildren or providing all-day child care. It is imperative that grandparents be familiar with poison prevention procedures. Prescriptions for older adults are some of the most toxic medications, posing the greatest threat of a tragic outcome if ingested by a child.

Accidental ingestions also can occur when children get into a purse or suitcase while a grandparent is visiting the child's home. If non child-resistant vials must be used, it is critical to keep them not only out of reach, but also out of sight from children. Many children five years of age or younger are capable of getting a chair to help them climb up to something that interests them or working with slightly older siblings to distract a parent's attention. The Oregon Poison Center received 156 calls a day last year from cities all over the state, 60 percent of which were related to children younger than five years of age. The Oregon Poison Center has specially trained nurses and doctors to respond to calls 24 hours a day. Emergencies can be handled at home in 80 percent of the calls. The center is funded by OHSU, by the State of Oregon and by donations.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Tonya Drayden, R.N, the education coordinator for the Oregon Poison Center, will be available for interviews throughout Poison Prevention Week. To arrange an interview, call Katie Morton at (503) 494-8231.